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Stock imagery for your website – what to avoid

Published: September 2017

A guide to using stock imagery

A lot of us use stock imagery for our website (ourselves included) but let’s be honest – we would all rather have an image bank of our own photos to choose from. However, it can be difficult to let go of stock imagery entirely when you are in the business of providing services – rather than products. Or if you simply don’t have the budget for a photographer. Stock imagery can be a lifesaver when you desperately need an image for your website. But this is no excuse for using cheesy, generic photos.

There’s no shame in relying on stock imagery. However, there is when you choose terrible ones! Imagery of any kind makes a difference on your website. It provides a visual insight into the company you are, so it’s important to get it right. Let’s have a look through some of the worst offenders, and our tips on how to avoid giving customers serious cases of cringing and eye rolling!

Happy corporate types

You know which ones I mean.

Stock imagery

You’ll usually find these stock image models huddled around a water cooler, looking very happy indeed, and often looking directly down the camera and straight at you. If you’re looking to represent a business person, why not try a more authentic stock image – with shadows instead of bright lights, eyes away from the camera and showing them actually doing some work. How about this as an alternative?

Stock imagery

You don’t want it to look obvious that you’ve used a stock image. A candid-looking photo that doesn’t appear to have used any professional lighting won’t scream stock imagery. Photographs with the subject looking away from the camera are not only more comfortable to look at, they are also far less distracting – ensuring your customer focuses on your product and not your pictures.

Clip art disasters

What is this supposed to be?

Stock imagery

Anything is better than this. People make pictures, not bizarre cartoons. If you’d really like to use 2D drawings to represent your work – hire somebody to create them in a way that fits in with your brand.

The white stick figure

If you’ve spent any longer than a few minutes on a stock imagery website, you’ll have seen him.

Stock imagery

Who is he? And who thought it was a good idea to create him and have him act out a number of scenarios for the benefit of stock imagery? Therefore, if he’s on your website, remove him fast. Not only is he obviously straight from a stock image site – he isn’t telling us anything about you or your brand.

Matrix dwellers

Oh no!
These poor people seem to be trapped in the matrix!

Stock imagery

Stock imagery

A tragedy…mainly for your website. Tech articles everywhere indulge in these bizarre photos of seemingly innocent members of the public trapped behind a wall of semi transparent code. Why? How? Who knows.

Why not replace them with somebody actually using technology instead?

Hopefully with that list of stock image ‘don’ts’ you’ll have a fair idea what appropriate use of stock imagery looks like. If you are really struggling to find an image that says what you need it to. How about your smartphone might be able to help you capture a great picture!

Imagery that represents you…

At Newcastle web design agency Urban River, we want to ensure that you have a website that represents you. We can assist you with all aspects of web design to achieve the look you desire. So, if you feel your website could do with some help – from imagery to the CMS system. Please give us a call.

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